Interlocking patios, driveways and walkways will increase the value of your home and beautify your property. The average interlocking stone area should last 10 to 15 years before any major restoration is required. This life expectancy is reliant on one simple thing…MAINTENANCE! Interlocking stone surfaces require regular maintenance every 2 to 4 years based on the conditions they encounter. If the surfaces are ignored and left to elements, you will expect to see weed growth, moss, dirt, shifting, and sinking. You will be able to avoid most if not all of these issues and keep your interlocking patios and interlocking driveways looking fresh by following these steps;
POWER WASHING: The first step in maintaining your interlocking driveway or patio is power washing the area. Use a high pressure 3000 psi power washer to clean the interlocking stones and remove the existing polymeric sand from between the joints. Choosing the correct nozzle is very important. A 0° nozzle can leave an deep indentation on the surface where as a 40° nozzle won’t penetrate deep enough and leave polymeric sand between the pavers. A turbo nozzle will be the best option if available or use a the 15° nozzle that was provided with the power washer.
Point the tip of the nozzle approximately 12″ away from the surface and move back and forth as well as tracing the perimeter of the stone. Make sure to shoot out all the debris resting between the interlocking pavers or slabs at least 2″ below the surface. You will want to wear protective eye wear as the loose debris will be propelled towards your face. Once the surface is successfully cleaned and all the existing polymeric sand has been removed, allow a sufficient amount of time for the interlocking stones to dry thoroughly. Water will remain on the base material below the stones for up to 24 hrs in warmer temperatures, so even if they appear to be dry on the surface, they may need more time to dry.
POLYMERIC SAND: Polymeric sand can be applied once you are certain the interlocking patio or driveway is thoroughly dry. Polymeric sand is a granular material mixed with a chemical binding compound. It reacts with water to create a solid but flexible bond between the joints of the interlocking stones. This interlocking maintenance product is your best defence against weed growth and shifting of the interlocking stones. When installed properly, you can expect a good quality polymeric sand to last 3 to 4 years in a low traffic area such as an interlocking patio or walkway and 2 to 3 years on a high traffic area such as a front entrance or interlocking driveway.
Apply the polymeric sand by emptying the bag directly onto the stones and sweeping the material back and forth into the joints between the stones. Try to sweep in short strides to keep the binding agents tight with the sand. Longer strides will spread them apart and decrease the structural durability of the polymeric sand. Your goal is to fill the joints approximately 1/8″ below the surface. If you have access to a plate compactor, you can vibrate the sand into the joints. Once all the paver joints are filled adequately, all of the excess polymeric sand should be swept and removed off the interlocking driveway or patio.
WETTING: The surface needs to be blown clean using a leaf blower. Aim to keep the blower on a 45° angle or less and blow from 18″ to 24″ away from the surface of the interlocking pavers. or slabs. Be careful not remove the polymeric sand from the joints when blowing the surface. It is important to ensure there are no sand particles remaining on top of the interlocking stones before applying any water. The polymeric sand has a chemicals in it similar to glue that react with water. The sand will be glued down to the stone if any remains on the surface when you apply water and is very hard to remove without disturbing the new sand that was just installed.
When applying water to the interlocking patio or driveway, try to focus on 100 to 200 square feet at a time. Using the shower setting on your garden hose nozzle, start at the lowest point of each area and wet the interlocking pavers back and forth. Wet each 100 to 200 square foot area 2 times in immediate succession to ensure proper saturation of the binding compound. Try to just lightly wet the stones the first time wetting the surface. Wait 3 minutes and wet the same area again. The second time, you should wet the areas until the water starts to accumulate between the joints of the interlocking stones. If you notice a white cream forming on the surface of the stones, you are using too much water and should lessen the amount applied.
Try to refrain from walking or driving on the sanded areas for 24 hours. Also, avoid the use of rock salts to melt ice and snow as it will deteriorate the polymeric sand faster. If de-icers are required for safety, try to use a product such as Alaskan Ice Melter as it is less harsh. If you maintain your interlocking stones following these steps every 2 to 4 years, you can expect to have a weed free interlocking patio or driveway that you can enjoy for years to come.